Bolton manager Owen Coyle launched an impassioned defence of the FA Cup ahead of his team's fifth-round trip to Fulham.

Falling attendances and weakened teams have dogged the competition in recent years, leading to suggestions the Football Association could introduce changes such as scrapping replays and seeding teams in an effort to revitalise it.

A prime example was Bolton's 1-0 victory over Wigan in a fourth-round replay on Wednesday, which was witnessed by less than 8,000 people. But, with more than 3,000 of those coming to support Wanderers, Coyle has no doubts the club's fans share his passion for the cup.

"All I can say about the crowd the other night was that our crowd were absolutely fantastic from start to finish," said Coyle. "The Bolton fans were right behind our team, they were vocal, they were there in large numbers, and we were away from home. We had nearly half the crowd so I think it shows you the Bolton fans certainly love the FA Cup.

"For me, the FA Cup is the best cup competition in world football and globally everybody still loves the FA Cup and the magic that goes with it.

"I hope it stays the same format, I really do. Sometimes it's the FA Cup that keeps the smaller clubs afloat so I think we have to look at the bigger picture and realise who changes would affect from top to bottom."

Source: PA